Ten top tips for working from home


If you have suddenly switched from an office environment to working from home because of coronavirus, here’s some advice from members of the IPG team who have been doing it for years.

1. Establish a routine

The structure of a work-from-home day can be very different to an office one. It can help to establish a routine to stick to: set times for getting up, starting and finishing work and taking breaks, and stick to them. If you think you are spending too little or too much time on something, tracking apps like RescueTime can help.

2. Separate work and home

For those used to working in an office that you leave behind each day, it can be very hard to define a separation between working life and home life. Too much overlap between the two can affect both. If you can, set aside a dedicated room or table for your work. Draw a line under the working day by closing the door on your space, or by putting your laptop or working materials away and out of sight.

For a reminder that you are not alone in the perils of overlapping work and home life, watch this classic clip!

3. Establish channels of communication

For people working with teams, a top priority is to work out when and how to contact each other. Think about the channels that work best for your team, and try to establish set times for check-ins and catch-ups. Use the cloud to share documents, and investigate tools like Slack for help with online collaboration. If anything, over-communicate with colleagues. This short video has some useful tips for effective teleworking.

4. Set up meeting platforms

It’s so easy to arrange online meetings and conferencing now. Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype are three good platforms, and there are many more. Meeting by video is a good way to replace the physical interaction that is such a big part of office life. (Bonus tip: make sure you are dressed and vaguely presentable before a video call!)

5. Call, don’t email

It’s tempting to rely on email for contact with colleagues, but phone calls can be a much more efficient and pleasurable way to exchange information and ideas.

6. Know yourself and your distractions

Daytime TV, social media, chores, children… home working can have lots of distractions! Be honest with yourself about what diverts you the most and find ways to block them out. If you have a tendency to get side-tracked by social media or websites, blocking apps like Focus Me can be helpful. Some people find that a little background noise like music playlists or the radio can help to focus the mind and get more things done.

7. Get out if you can

An obvious but important one! So long as it’s practical and doesn’t compromise the health of you or others, take breaks in the working day by getting out of the house for a walk, run, cycle or whatever you enjoy. Fresh air can make all the difference to your sanity, and you often get your best thinking done when you step away from the desk. If you find yourself with a little extra time in the mornings, you might use it for some self-care: a nice breakfast and some yoga or similar activity, perhaps—whatever helps you set up a healthy mindset.

8. Do some training

Working from home can be a good opportunity to catch up with some online training in chunks. Make the most of any extra time you find yourself with by taking a look at the IPG Skills Hub. You can access it any time, and pause progress on longer courses and return to them later.

9. Invest in your working space

Money saved by working from home can soon add up, so use some of it to make your environment better. A comfortable chair, a nice desk and a coffee machine might be three priorities!

10. Look for the positives but ask for help if you need it

While office working has its advantages, there’s much to be said for working from home too. Many people who make the switch find themselves much more productive without simple office distractions. Avoiding the commute can save a lot of time and money. And if it is done properly, working from home can do wonders for that elusive work-life balance.

If you are finding it hard to adjust, be upfront about your concerns with your employer. It’s always best to ask for help before issues start to cause stress. MIND has provided some excellent wellbeing resources for people working from home.

If you have any tips of your own for working from home, we’d love to hear them and add them here.